Pope Francis waves to faithful as he arrives for his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square, at the Vatican, Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015 (Photo: AP)
Pope Francis met with a long time gay friend and his partner while visiting Washington, a day before meeting with anti-gay county clerk Kim Davis, CNN said Friday.
A video of the encounter shows the pope and his old friend Yayo Grassi sharing a hug in the meeting September 23 at the Vatican embassy, CNN said.
Grassi brought his partner Iwan and several friends to the brief session with the pope, it added.
The pope arranged the meeting weeks before his six day visit to the United States at the end of September, Grassi told CNN.
"Three weeks before the trip, he called me on the phone and said he would love to give me a hug," Grassi said in the interview.
The disclosure adds to the intrigue of the pope's non-public schedule while visiting Washington.
News emerged this week that he met privately with Davis, the Kentucky clerk who was briefly jailed for refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses.
Acting in the name of religion, Davis was defying what is now the law of the land, since same sex marriage became legal following a historic Supreme Court ruling in June.
Grassi said the pope used to teach him literature and psychology in high school in Argentina in the 1960s.
He said the pope had long known he was gay but never condemned his sexual orientation or his same-sex relationship.
"He has never been judgmental," Grassi said. "He has never said anything negative."
Pope Francis has won praise for shifting the focus of the Catholic church away from doctrine banning gay marriage and abortion and emphasizing forgiveness and issues like fighting poverty, helping immigrants and combatting climate change.